Champagne Punch: Ch 2 The Two Bed Situation

thecouplethatknewverylittle.jpgChapter 2: The Two Bed Situation

An ocean liner is not an ideal place to fix a martini, but Clark is just so very skilled. He really is terrific at fixing martinis, even away from dry land. And he looked so smart in his robe, which was what he was wearing.
He sat on his bed, shaking the shaker, and I sat on mine, reviewing the dossier.
Clark hated the separate beds they gave us. He thought it was off the cob and he just couldn’t believe that they didn’t have a cabin left with a big, fluffy king-size. They apologized and stated that “due to the lateness of our purchase” that this was the only room available.

“I suppose were lucky not to be in the lower decks with the riffraff,” Clark said, which was cute in the way new money men are always cute when they play at snobbery.

I just adored the two beds. It was like a movie. I always loved to imagine how one could make love in a two-bed situation. How is the first move made? Does it require bouncing?
But no romantic imaginings or impressive shaker skills could have distracted me at that moment from the business at hand which was, of course, the mystery of the American girl and the queer British family.

I just adored the two beds. It was like a movie. I always loved to imagine how one could make love in a two-bed situation. How is the first move made? Does it require bouncing?

“My hunch,” said I, “is that everything we need to solve this mystery is in this folder. If we can just piece it together.”
“Yes, darling. Keep looking.”

He poured the gin into two martini glasses. Truly a remarkably steady hand for a man on a boat.

“Oh Clark,” said I “I wish you’d spend at least a little time on this trip trying to solve the mystery.”
“There’s no mystery, kid. The boy didn’t murder his roommate, and the girl doesn’t love him. But she’ll marry him anyway even though it is VERY likely that he is a real jerk and that his family is profoundly awful. It’ll be sad but not criminal and certainly NOT mysterious.”
“But the chief’s wife had a feeling in her gut—!”
”That feeling was indigestion.”
”Clark! You’re ruining this!”
“What do you want me to say? Instead of card games with Lou in a cell, you get martinis with Clark on a boat. I did my part.”
“I think if you studied this dossier you might find many suspicious characters! Take for instance the matriarch. Lady Edith Fry. She’s a real scamp! Her father was an infamous con artist arrested by Scotland Yard, and her mother was a prostitute who died of syphilis! “
“What a grand adventure!”
“But then she met Lord Allyn Fry and married up. Way up! Just like you.”
“And I thought it was just syphilis we had in common.”
“And then he mysteriously died.”
“It wasn’t that mysterious. He fell off a balcony in front of a group of people while making a speech about democracy.”
“You HAVE read it!”
“He had gathered the entire staff of butlers and cooks and whatever else they think seem to think they need – bathers or something – and forced them all to listen to a political speech. And then he leaned forward to gesture to the lead butler as if to say ‘You especially should hear this.’ And then he fell to his death.”
“Don’t you find that a little suspicious?”
“Not at all. He had well-documented troubles with vertigo.”

I thumbed through the dossier like mad, careful not to spill any gin. Clark just stretched out on his bed like Pharaoh’s cat and sipped away.

“Page 12,” he said, “They’d begged him to conduct the speech from the gardens — safe on ground level. But he thought that speaking from a certain height would be more epic or Shakespearean or something.”

I was astonished.

“I’m astonished,” I said, “When did you read this?”
“This morning while you were hanging off your sleepover.”
“But how do you remember it with such detail?”
“I don’t know. Another glass?”
I held up my glass which was indeed now empty and so, yes, of course, I wanted another.
“Your brain must work differently than the average humans.”
“I can remember the first and last name of every blond I ever met.”
”When I study this I have to read slowly and methodically – poring over every detail. But you seem to be able to drink it all in in a single sitting. Remarkable! You’re a genius!”
“I don’t know about that. I’ve been stuck on page eight of War and Peace for three years.”
”So what about this daughter of hers?”
”The one that’s engaged to the German soldier?”
“No the other one.”
“The one that’s engaged to the accountant.”
“No the other one. The one that’s engaged to the American Film director.”
“Ah, yes. The actress. What about her?”
“Something about that union doesn’t seem right.”
“Is it the fact that he spent a night in jail for soliciting a minor?”
“Or is it the fact that the minor in question was a boy?”
“Another glass?”

Our glasses were empty, nearly bone dry, so yes, another glass.

“I wish you weren’t so cynical about marriage,” I said. “It depresses me to see how unromantic you are.”
“It’s very romantic to marry in your 30’s like we did. When you marry in your 30’s, it’s nearly always for love. But there’s nothing romantic about marrying young. The only reasons to marry young are because of religion or money. Both I would consider cynical.”
“Clark, that’s wonderful. You sound just like Oscar Wilde. But you always told me that you married me for my money.”
“Yes, but I LOVE your money!”

And then we kissed. A playful little open mouth affair with the appropriate amount of tongue play. But I pulled away. Work still to do.

“But don’t you think that there’s something awfully peculiar about this family? The rich widow and her three daughters and one son. Each of them engaged to be married at the same time!”
“I think that every family has secrets and the richer the family, the deeper and darker the secrets.”
“My family is rich. Are you saying we have secrets?”
“Your family built one of the largest refrigeration companies in the American West.”
“What’s your point?”
“I have no point. Your family is without secrets.”

I gave him the stink eye and made sure it stunk.

“All I’m saying is that I’m hoping for some mystery and some adventure and not just a bizarre weekend with a creepy family.”
“And I’m saying that if you want to solve a mystery don’t follow the sex, follow the money.“
“Perhaps I should have a gun. In case we get into a scrape.”
“If we get into a scrape I’m using you as a human shield.”
“Oh, Clark, a REAL adventure! Just you and me! I just hope I’m up to the task!”
“Another glass?”

It was sweet of him to ask, but my glass was empty, and we had oh so much travel left and a great deal of work to do, so apparently yes, another glass.


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Lee Trull

I am a Texan writing about the future, the past, and things in between.

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